Suresh Prabhu,Minister of Railways, has said that to provide freedom to passengers to select their meals from an array of choices including local cuisine, e-catering has been introduced in 108 trains on an experimental basis from January this year.
Food can be ordered through the IRCTC website at the time of booking of tickets. He said, the Railways is working to integrate the best food chains of the country into this project.
Depending on the response from the customers, the facility will be extended to cover more trains. It is also intended to set up Base Kitchens in specified Divisions to be run by highly credible agencies for serving quality food.
IRCTC has recently joined hands with with Jubilant Food Works, the parent company of Domino’s Pizza, on a trial basis, to deliver pizza across 12 stations.
The passengers can also send an SMS (“MEAL <PNR>” at 139). List of E-catering trains is available at website. The scheme is being extended to more and more trains.
Initially the services will be offered by Domino’s Pizza at twelve stations including, Agra Cantt. (AGC),Alwar, Jaipur, Ambala, Jalandhar Cantt, Mathura Junction, Muzzafar Nagar, New Delhi, Pathankot Cantt, VAPI, Bharuch and Vadodara.
IRCTC has already started e-catering services on a specific section (Delhi – Amritsar), on a trial basis, from 25th September 2014, in non-pantry car trains.
E-catering facility has been extended to 120 trains, and more number of trains is being added to the list every few days.
Presenting his first railway budget, Prabhu, brought a cheer to the common man by not announcing any increase in passenger fares.
He said in the parliament that Railways is introducing ‘Operation Five Minutes’ to ensure that a passenger travelling unreserved can purchase a ticket within five minutes.
Provision of modified ‘hot-buttons’, coin vending machines and ‘single destination teller’ windows will drastically reduce the transaction time.
For the differently-abled travellers, a special initiative is being launched whereby they can purchase concessional e-tickets after one-time registration. The Minister said, it is also proposed to work towards developing a multi-lingual e-ticketing portal. He said, the Railways will move towards crediting all refunds through the banking system.
Prabhu said, in Central Railway, Western Railway and Southern Railway suburban sections, a pilot project of issuing unreserved tickets on smart phones has already started. The Minister expressed hope that this facility will be extended progressively to all stations.
Automatic ticket vending machines with smart cards and currency options have also been installed at many stations.
It is proposed to proliferate this further and also to introduce debit card operated machines.
Introduction of integrated ticketing system on the lines of rail-cum-road tickets on Jammu – Srinagar route will be expanded.
In order to make travel on Indian Railways a happy experience, the Budget has given thrust on Cleanliness and proposes a new department for keeping stations and trains clean under Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
New toilets will be built at 650 additional stations; online booking of disposable bed rolls will be made available.
24X7 helpline number 138;toll-free number 182 for security related complaints have also been proposed in the budget.
Now, 200 more stations to come under Adarsh Station scheme; Wi - Fi to be provided at B category stations; facility of self-operated lockers will be available at stations.